Francophiles, rejoice! The Upper East Side just welcomed a new French-language bookstore and library for kids. Dubbed La Librairie des Enfants, This charming storefront welcomes children of all ages and is owned and operated by longtime UES resident (and French native) Lynda Ouhenia-Hudson. Read on for the lowdown on this fresh spot!
Opening a French bookstore for children had long been a dream of Ouhenia-Hudson, mother to two now-grown children. When she spotted a ‘For Rent’ sign in the window of a former restaurant close to her home, she decided to finally take the plunge.
La Librairie des Enfants primarily sells children’s books that are written in French and published by some of the top publishers in France. Of course, literary classics such as Madeline and Le Petit Prince are available, but there’s also a large variety of soft, sensory books, pop-up books, children’s cookbooks, books that make music when buttons are pressed, and so forth, along with chapter books and plays.
Tres Francais Gifts, Play and Classes
The shop also sells poster-sized coloring maps, French board games such as Grand Jeu Max et Lili, art kits, and other little gift items you’d find at shops in France. Additionally, the shop stocks a small section of children’s books in English, and also features a play area with tables and a mini dollhouse. French book covers and a photo of “The Little Prince” adorn the walls of the shop.
Ouhenia-Hudson — who, when pressed, identifies Tintin as her favorite French storybook character — is happy to place special orders for a specific book or gift item. (She’s also happy to hook-up adults with French titles upon request.)
The shop also hosts sessions (40-minute classes) called “Petites Histoires” for children ages 18 months to 8 years of age. Led by native French teachers, the classes focus on French literature, language, music, art and more. Sessions can be purchased as part of a membership package (see below) or can be done a la carte for $42/session with sibling discounts available. Sessions available in 2017 are listed here.
Buy — or Borrow!
What makes this place extra special is not just the personal touch you’ll find here — Ouhenia-Hudson and her staff are very welcoming to customers of all ages — but that a portion of the shop also functions as a library as well.
Visitors can of course purchase books here, but alternatively, customers can become a member of La Librairie des Enfants and have borrowing privileges at the store’s library. A small section in the back of the shop, the library is stocked with volumes of interest to kids, teens and adults.
A basic library membership ($12.95 per month/$145.00 per year) allows members to borrow as many as 15 books per month for a three-week loan period, and also receive 20% off books in the shop.
The Deluxe Membership
For the family in search of even more French literature and culture, La Librairie des Enfants offers a premier membership level which includes four sessions per month, one free book from the shop’s “Member’s Only” collection, library rental privileges, access to special events and more.
Coming soon: Puppet Shows and Author Appearances
In early 2017, La Librairie des Enfants will be offering puppet shows (Theatre de Marionnettes) for kids on-site, in both French and English. Tickets for the kid-friendly puppet shows will need to be purchased in advanced; more information is available here. The shop will also bring in guest speakers and authors, so check back online for info on future events.
La Librairie des Enfants New York
163 East 92nd St.
Upper East Side
Is there a new kid-friendly business in NYC we should know about? Tell us in the comments below!
— Rachel Sokol
photos: courtesy of the author